It’s not exactly a common job title. But this week Natalie St Clair spoke to Refinery 29 about her role as an “abortion travel agent”.
The 24 year old is a volunteer with not-for-profit Fund Texas Choice, which helps women access abortions.
Why? Because, in Texas, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain an abortion. Since 2013, half the clinics around the state have closed down thanks to crippling new regulations.
That means that 40 per cent of Texan women live in a county without any abortion clinic - and must travel across the state to access one. Plus, the new regulations introduced a 24-hour stand down period (between the consultation and the termination) which means most need to arrange travel and accommodation. Not an easy feat for some young women.
“If a woman needs to find a clinic or a fund to pay for the procedure, I can help. I book everything they need: bus, hotel. If they need an Uber for something, I get them an Uber. If they need to reschedule, I give them the resources. It’s a lot of texting. And faxing,” she told Refinery 29.
“Traveling is always stressful, even if you’re going on a vacation. But planning an abortion in Texas is totally overwhelming. [H.B. 2] created chaos across the board for all Texans just trying to get anywhere to get an abortion. People who lived right next to a clinic would have to go four hours away to a different city in Texas, because their clinic was closed that week for some reason. It was a total mess. Understanding how the laws work is super complicated — by design”
Cancelled flights due to bad weather, protestors blocking the entry to clinics and hotels who are anti-abortion are just some of the obstacles that St Clair has to deal with. Last year, she believes she arranged abortions for 300 women.